Doug's Bench Part II; Milling the Seat & Wide Leg

Milling the seat and wide leg on Doug’s Shoe Bench posed an issue as the boards they’re made from are about 14” wide. While I love my jointer, it is only 8”. In order to mill the seat blank, I headed to the big box and bought a 16” melamine shelf. After ripping the shelf to 15” on my table saw, I sat the seat blank on it and added a few shims to eliminate rocking. Then I hot glued the hell out of the edge.

The bench seat is glued on and ready for milling.

I took the melamine/seat blank combination and ran it through the planer until the top of the seat blank was flat enough to not rack. Then I pulled the seat blank off the melamine off and discovered I had probable used too much hot glue. Luckily the damage was to the melamine and not the seat blank. I put the seat blank face down on the planer and ran it through. After a few minutes of milling and a couple of flips, both sides were glass smooth.

I repeated the same process with a shorter piece of melamine for the leg which was cut from the same blank as the seat.

The wide leg was milled the same way.

With the faces milled, the seat and wide leg were ready for joinery. Because their joint would be visible I decided on dovetails for the visual flair. Using my Keller Dovetail jig, it was a quick and easy procedure to mille the dovetails, though I will say that I wish Keller made bigger bits so that thicker boards could be dovetailed. As just over an inch, the seat and wide leg were boarding on too thick to use the Keller Jig on.

The Keller jig makes quick, messy work of the dovetails.

The finished dovetails left me with an issue. Though the leg looked good, just dovetails and now lower stretcher would not be enough to keep the leg on over any period of use.

the first dry fit.

I went back and forth on this and finally decided on a diagonal stretcher which ran from the leg to the underside of the seat. Ideally, I would have been able to make the bench without this stretcher, but as the leg and seat were only about 1” thick, I didn’t think their dovetail connection would be strong enough. In order to minimize the visual distraction of the stretcher, I made it from the same board as the seat and wide leg. I set it off center, towards the back of the bench and left a live edge along the bottom edge.

Once I had milled and dry fit the diagonal stretcher, I milled for dominos in the seat, wide leg and diagonal stretcher. Then I set the wide leg and diagonal stretcher aside and turned my attention back to the seat.

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